The defining role of leaders is made manifest in their conversations, especially now, in the era of knowledge workers. Leading and managing people is really a series of conversations. It’s the informal stop in the hallway, the formal business meeting, and everything in between. Thus, it makes sense for leaders to hone their skills in the art of conversation. However, because conversations are something we do all the time, and have for all of our lives, we often don’t appreciate their significance. I believe the artful skill of conversation is an “invisible advantage.” The capacity to have consistently productive, efficient, and meaningful conversations is one of the best indicators of exceptional leadership. It’s one of the “the quiet arts” of an effective leader ~ the seemingly simple act of consistently convening and conducting high-caliber conversations.
Food for Thought ~
Many of the problems in organizations could be avoided, or at least minimized, by improving initial conversations. If the people involved are clear from the beginning, have a shared vision of the desired outcomes, and agree on the steps to take, a successful result is more likely. This applies to everything from a hiring interview to a new strategic initiative. Of course, in these complicated times of changing circumstances, and accepting the fallibility of human communication, problems cannot be completely avoided. When they happen, a skillful conversation about those problems will determine the next chapter. Are the issues resolved or still unclear? I encourage you to be mindful in each and every conversation. Conversations are the currency of leadership.
Question for the day ~
Have you considered your skill at conducting conversations? Where are you strong, and where might your skills need improvement?
A Footnote ~
An excellent resource on the subject of conversation is the book Crucial Conversations, and its companion book that addresses conflict, Crucial Confrontations, by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler.